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Feeding Your Beef Cattle

Learn all about feeding your beef cattle with Nutrena and Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Cattle have their own nutritional needs, just like any other animal. When you’re raising and feeding beef cattle, it’s important to know their dietary needs so they can grow strong and healthy. With the help of Nutrena and Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn about the basics of feeding your beef cattle.

Feeding Your Beef Cattle
Cattle have specific nutritional needs, just like any other animal. Learn all about feeding your beef cattle with Nutrena and Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Beef Cattle at Pasture

Roughage Required – Grass and hay are the main part of a cow’s diet. According to Nutrena,¬†on a dry matter basis a cow will eat 4 to 5 tons of forage per year. From an economical standpoint, it’s best to let cows graze, as long as there is adequate pasture. The amount of forage the cows consume determines how well they’ll perform – this is usually expressed in Average Daily Gain (ADG). Growing beef cattle will consume about 2.5 percent of their body weight each day, depending on the condition of the forage. Beef cattle require 8 to 10 pounds of roughage for every pound of gain.

Hay – If possible, the hay should be 8% crude protein or higher. It is a good idea to test the protein value of your hay through local laboratories.

Confined Beef Cattle

If cattle are confined, all nutrients required for growth and production must be supplied. Normally growing cattle over 700 pounds will need to receive rations relatively high in concentrates to gain faster. The concentrate should be processed for maximum benefit to the animal. Supplements containing vitamins, minerals and protein (depending on what they are getting from the for-age) are recommended.

Breaking Down the Diet

Cows are ruminant, meaning they ferment their feed before digesting in the stomach and intestines. According to Nutrena, the rumen in a mature cow is a 42 gallon drum which has feed, water and bacteria in it. The bacteria break down the fiber and help the cow get energy from the fiber. Bacteria will continually wash out of the rumen then be-come digested in the intestines. The bacteria will provide much of the protein the cow needs. There are literally billions of tiny bacteria in the rumen. When we feed a cow we are really feeding the bacteria so that they can do their job.

This article was originally posted by Nutrena. For more tips on feeding your livestock and backyard farm animals, visit our Hobby Farming blog.

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